Title:
Container with adjustable inner partitions
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container with adjustable inner partitions provides flexibility for holding different sizes of substantially rectangular products. The partitions also cushion the product to protect against damage from physical pressure exerted on the box. Within the four walls of a rectangular box, panels are aligned parallel to the top and bottom walls. Multiple slots are formed in the panels, said slots opposing each other to create pairs of panel slots suitable for receiving a partition perpendicular to the panels. Multiple pairs of slots formed in the panels enable dual partitions to be inserted between the panels at a variety of positions. Two partitions are inserted in pairs of panel slots providing an appropriate distance between the partitions to secure a particular size rectangular product in between the partitions. Each partition may be provided with a slot convenient for receiving an edge of the rectangular product, to hold the product in place.



Inventors:
Mena, Jesse Joe (Manitou Springs, CO, US)
Johnson, Carol Louise (Colorado Springs, CO, US)
Johnson, Charles Francis (Colorado Springs, CO, US)
Reichenberg, Daniel Kenneth (Monument, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/012943
Publication Date:
06/15/2006
Filing Date:
12/14/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D81/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
REYNOLDS, STEVEN ALAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LINDA FLEWELLEN GOULD (COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A container for a substantially rectangular product, comprising: a. a box having opposing top and bottom walls, opposing side walls, a back wall, and a front wall, said front wall movable between an open box position and a closed box position; b. opposing inner panels inside said box having a plurality of opposing panel slots formed therein; c. opposing partitions removably insertible into opposing panel slots.

2. A container according to claim 1, wherein opposing partition slots are formed in said opposing partitions suitable for receiving edges of the rectangular product.

3. A container according to claim 1, wherein said opposing inner panels are positioned substantially parallel to said top and bottom walls.

4. A container according to claim 3, wherein a top inner panel is adjacent to said top wall.

5. A container according to claim 3, wherein a bottom inner panel is adjacent to said bottom wall.

6. A container according to claim 4, wherein a bottom inner panel is adjacent to said bottom wall.

7. A container according to claim 4, wherein said top inner panel is attached to said top wall.

8. A container according to claim 5, wherein said bottom inner panel is attached to said bottom wall.

9. A container according to claim 1, wherein said top wall functions as said top inner panel with panel slots formed in a face of said top wall inside the container.

10. A container according to claim 1, wherein said bottom wall functions as said bottom inner panel with panel slots formed in a face of said bottom wall inside the container.

11. A container according to claim 6, wherein opposing partition slots are formed in said opposing partitions suitable for receiving edges of the rectangular product.

12. A container according to claim 1, wherein said front wall is attached at one end to one end of said bottom wall, said front wall being pivotable around said end of said bottom wall between said open box position and said closed box position.

13. A container according to claim 1, further comprising more than two pairs of opposing panel slots suitable for receiving said opposing partitions in a plurality of positions between said opposing inner panels within said container.

14. A container according to claim 13, wherein opposing partition slots are formed in said opposing partitions suitable for receiving edges of the rectangular product.

15. A container according to claim 1, further comprising more than two inner panels.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention pertains to a specialized container for safely holding or transporting various products of a generally rectangular shape.

A variety of packages, boxes, and containers are known in the prior art. Boxes are frequently designed to accommodate one or more products inside the box, to facilitate transportation of the products. However, pressure exerted during transit, when other boxes are piled on top or when the box is dropped or moved, can detrimentally affect the contents of the box.

Specialized containers are known in the prior art to protect products within the container from damage which may be caused by physical or electrical forces applied to the container. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,045,038 and 6,047,884 to Smith et al. and related applications describe a box with movable interior panels which are automatically distanced from outer side panels when the box is unfolded from a collapsed position. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 6,168,073 to Towle teaches a container which encompasses a smaller similarly shaped container, with a fan extension portion.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,505,309 to Taravella et al. discloses a rectangular container the side walls of which are folded into a triangular shaped double wall to protect the contents of the box. U.S. Pat. No. 4,025,039 to Croll et al. describes a carton with inner side walls distanced from exterior side walls, each inner side wall having slots for receiving card-mounted goods. U.S. Pat. No. 2,746,667 to Murphy teaches a shipping container with a specialized liner which has a longitudinal recess suitable for holding fragile sheet material.

A container with shock-absorbing inserts is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,823,352 to Mena et al, suitable for protecting the contents of the container from damage caused by both physical and electrical forces.

While each of these containers known in the prior art serves a purpose, many of the containers known in the prior art are designed in a manner which allows only a product or set of products of a specific size and shape to be safely transported within the container. As a result, a particular sized box of these previous designs must be provided for each specific product or set of products to be held and carried within that box. A container is needed which can be conveniently modified to provide protection for one or more generally rectangular products, such as circuit boards, securely holding each product in a desired position within the container. The claimed container is flexible enough to enable a variety of sizes of generally rectangular products to be similarly held at desired positions within the container. In this manner, the container can be used multiple times for carrying different generally rectangular products, enhancing the likelihood that the container will be recycled for further use. Similarly, the container eliminates the need to produce and store a specially sized container for each size product being shipped.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of this invention is to provide a container suitable for holding one or more generally rectangular products.

Another object of this invention is to provide such a container which protects any product being held within the container from damage by external forces by securely holding each product in a desired safe position.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide such a container which can easily be adapted to hold one or more products of differing sizes, so that the same container may be used at different times to hold and ship a variety of products.

The container claimed herein consists of a generally rectangular box with opposing top and bottom walls, opposing side walls, a back wall, and a front wall which can be opened and closed. If the container is designed to transport a single product which is generally flat and rectangular, such as a circuit board, mirror, sheet of glass, or card-mounted product, the top and bottom walls will typically have significantly greater surface area than the side walls. The side walls, back wall, and front wall typically have a constant height, separating the top and bottom walls by that constant height at all positions within the box to form a rectangular prism.

The front wall may be functionally viewed as a door, which conveniently opens and closes on a hinged attachment to the bottom wall, top wall, or one of the side walls. In an alternative embodiment, the front wall may be a separate piece which is not attached to any of the other walls of the container when the container is open. In this alternative embodiment, the front wall is equipped with a closure mechanism such as extensions from each side of the front wall which snugly fit around one end of the exterior of the bottom, top, and side walls when the container is in a closed position.

A variety of closure mechanisms may be used to secure the front wall in a closed position. For example, an extension from the front wall may be shaped so as to be snugly inserted into a hole formed in the wall opposing the wall to which the front wall is attached. Other closure mechanisms are well known in the prior art, each allowing the front wall to be easily moved between an open position in which a product can be conveniently placed within or removed from the container, and a closed position in which a product is securely held within the container.

Opposing flat inner panels are arranged within the container substantially parallel to the top and bottom walls. The panels may be spaced away from the top and bottom walls, such as by attaching the panels on opposing sides to the side walls of the container at a desired distance from the top or bottom wall of the container. In a preferred embodiment, a top inner panel is aligned adjacent to the interior of the top wall of the container, while a bottom inner panel is aligned adjacent to the interior of the bottom wall of the container, providing a secure position for both the top and bottom inner panels. Alternatively, the interior face of the top wall may function as a top panel, or the interior face of the bottom wall may function as a bottom panel, instead of having a separate top inner panel or separate bottom inner panel.

If more than one substantially rectangular product is to be placed within the container, it is advantageous to have more than two inner panels within the container. For example, if two products will be placed within the container, a top inner panel adjacent to the top wall of the container, a bottom inner panel adjacent to the bottom wall of the container, and a middle inner panel approximately equidistant between the top inner panel and the bottom inner panel may conveniently be placed within the container. In this manner, two secure sites for products are formed within the container: one site between the top and middle inner panels, and a second site between the middle and bottom inner panels.

Each inner panel within the container is scored with notches, grooves, or slots, which will be referred to as panel slots. Each panel slot is conveniently aligned with an opposing panel slot formed in the panel which is positioned within the container nearest to the first panel. Thus, in the preferred embodiment suitable for holding a single substantially rectangular product in a desired safe position, multiple panel slots are formed in the top inner panel, and corresponding and opposing panel slots are formed in the bottom inner panel. Removable partitions may conveniently be inserted in opposing panel slots of opposing inner panels, so that the removable partitions are securely held parallel to each other and parallel to the side walls. If one or more middle inner panels are utilized, each middle inner panel should be thick enough to accommodate panel slots formed in both the top and bottom faces thereof, suitable for receiving partitions both above and below the middle panel, without loosing structural integrity.

Partition slots are formed in each partition, so partitions inserted into panel slots to form opposing partitions have partition slots which are parallel and opposite. These partition slots are suitable for removably receiving the sides of a substantially flat and rectangular product, such as a circuit board. Partition slots may ideally be wider on an end of each partition which will be positioned near the opening of the container, so that the product to be held by the container can be easily inserted into the largest opening of the partition slot, and guided into a more narrow channel of the partition slot to securely hold the product in a desired safe position between opposing partitions. The product can be inserted into the partition slots while the partitions are secured in opposing panel slots within the container. Alternatively, a product may be simply inserted into partition slots while the partitions are partially removed from the container, for ease in positioning. The partitions, holding the product, can then be slid into the container along the panel slots into which the partitions have been inserted. Removal of the product from the container can similarly be accomplished either by sliding the product from the partition slots while the partitions are in the container or by first sliding the partitions either partly or completely out of the panel slots and out of the container.

Each component of the container, including walls, panels, and partitions, can be formed of a variety of suitable materials, such as corrugated fiberboard or cardboard. When protection from electrostatic discharge is desired, the material chosen for construction of each component of the container ideally will be either electrostatic shielding or electrostatic dissipative in nature.

The novel features that are considered characteristic of the invention are set forth with particularity in the claims. The invention itself, both as to its construction and its method of operation, together with additional objects and advantages thereof, will best be understood from the description of specific embodiments which follows, when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of an open container according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of an open container according to the present invention, showing a product held between dual partitions partially inserted into panel slots within the container.

FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of an open container according to the present invention, showing a product held in a desired safe position between dual partitions completely inserted into panel slots within the container.

FIG. 4 is a top perspective cut-away view of an open container according to the present invention, with portions of the exterior walls cut away.

FIG. 5 is a top perspective cut-away view of an open container according to the present invention, with multiple panels holding multiple pairs of partitions, with each pair of partitions suitable for holding a product in a desired safe position.

FIG. 6 is a top perspective view of a closed container according to the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a bottom perspective view of an open container according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a bottom perspective view of an open container according to the present invention, viewed from the opposite end shown in FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention concerns a container suitable for securely holding and transporting one or more substantially rectangular products. In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It will be obvious, however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. Some well-known methods and structures have not been set forth in order not to unnecessarily obscure the description of the present invention.

As can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 7, the container 10 claimed herein includes a top wall 16 opposing a bottom wall 18, two opposing side walls 14, a back wall 22 and a front wall 24. The front wall 24 can be moved between a position in which the container 10 is open, as shown in FIGS. 1-5, and a closed position as shown in FIG. 6. A number of closing mechanisms 28 are suitable for holding the front wall 24 in a closed position. In the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the front wall 24 opens and closes on a hinged attachment 26 to the bottom wall 18.

Opposing substantially flat inner panels 30, as best shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, are conveniently arranged within the container 10 substantially parallel to the top 16 and bottom 18 walls. Each inner panel 30 can be simply constructed with a size and shape similar to the top and bottom walls 16 and 18. It is also possible to use inner panels 30 which are smaller than the top and bottom walls 16 and 18, while conveniently rectangular in shape. An inner panel 30 can most securely be positioned adjacent to the interior 38 of the top wall 16 as shown in FIG. 8 or the interior 40 of the bottom wall 18 as shown in FIG. 1. Nevertheless, it is possible to position one or more inner panels 30 at desired distances from the top wall 16 and bottom wall 18, attaching each such inner panel 30 at its sides to the interior 20 of the container side walls 14. As shown in FIG. 5, inner panels 30 may be arranged with one panel 30 adjacent to the top wall 16, one panel 30 adjacent to the bottom wall 18, and one panel 30 equidistant between the top 16 and bottom 18 walls.

Numerous arrangements of substantially parallel inner panels 30 are possible, at a variety of distances from the interior 38 of the top wall 16 or the interior 40 of the bottom wall 18. In a specialized embodiment suitable for holding a product 12 which is taller on one side than another, it is possible to align one inner panel 30 in a manner which is not parallel to the top 16 and bottom 18 walls, so that the non-parallel inner panel 30 forms an angle with the opposing inner panel 30 suitable for creating a space between the opposing panels 30 for holding the non-flat product 12.

As best shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, multiple panel slots 32 are formed in each inner panel 30. If the edge of a partition 34 to be held by a panel slot 32 is U-shaped, it is most convenient for each panel slot 32 to also be U-shaped, but it is understood that different shaped panel slots 32 are possible corresponding to the shape of edges of partitions 34 to be held by the panel slots 32. Panel slots 32 are positioned in each inner panel 30 to form pairs of opposing panel slots 46, as best shown in FIG. 5, by aligning panel slots 32 in an opposing manner on inner panels 30 positioned within the container 10 nearest to each other. Thereby, a partition 34 inserted into opposing panel slots 46 is held substantially parallel to the side walls 14. For example, if a container 10 has a top inner panel 42 adjacent to the interior 38 of the top wall 16 and a bottom inner panel 44 adjacent to the interior 40 of the bottom wall 18, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, and 8, panel slots 32 are formed in the top inner panel 42 directly above opposing panel slots 32 formed in the bottom inner panel 44. In this manner, a partition 34 may be conveniently inserted into one of the pairs of opposing panel slots 46 and held in a position parallel to the side walls 14. At least two panel slots 32 are needed in each panel 30 in order to hold two partitions 34, but more panel slots 32 in each panel 30 create more flexibility for positioning of partitions 34.

Partitions 34 can advantageously be removed and inserted in multiple positions, each time held in place by a pair of opposing panel slots 46. If dual partitions 34 are held in opposing panel slots 46 closest to the interior 20 of side walls 14, a relatively large product 12 can be inserted between and held in place by the partitions 34. If a relatively small product 12 is to be held in the container 10, partitions 34 may be easily inserted into opposing panel slots 46 which are closer to each other, to accommodate and securely hold the smaller product 12 in a desired safe position. By arranging the partitions 34 in appropriate pairs 46 of opposing panel slots 32 corresponding to the width of that particular product 12, a secure position for the product 12 to be held between the partitions 34 can be established. In this manner, the product 12 is securely held between appropriately arranged partitions 34 to provide safety and protection for the product 12 despite shocks and pressure exerted during transportation and handling. Nevertheless, the same container 10 may be used to safely hold and transport a product 12 of a different size by moving the partitions 34 to other pairs of opposing panel slots 32.

Partitions 34 can be of a variety of shapes and sizes, provided that they fit within the walls 14, 16, 18, 22, 24 of the container 10 and have edges suitable for inserting in opposing panel slots 46. Partitions 34 can conveniently be constructed with a size and shape similar to the side walls 14, but with a height suitable for inserting snugly between a top inner panel 42 and a bottom inner panel 44. In an embodiment suitable for holding multiple products 12 in the same container 10 as shown in FIG. 5, each partition 34 will have a height suitable for snugly fitting between adjacent inner panels 30, with more than two inner panels 30 secured inside the container 10. In another embodiment, more than two partitions 34 may be inserted between the same set of opposing panels 30, to create multiple and separate secure sites for holding multiple products 12 between the same set of inner panels 30.

Partition slots 36 are formed in each partition 34, as shown in FIGS. 1, 4, and 5, suitable for snugly receiving an edge of the product 12 to be placed in the container 10. Opposing partition slots 36 formed in adjacent partitions 34 are suitable for holding a substantially rectangular product 12 within the container 10 in a secure position which is substantially parallel to the top 16 and bottom 18 walls but separated from those walls 16, 18 to protect the product 12 from damage due to forces impacting the container 10, such as during transit.

As best shown in FIG. 2, the partitions 34 holding the product 12 can be slid into and out of opposing panel slots 46 for ease in placing the product 12 into the container 10 or removing the product 12 from the container 10. Alternatively, the product 12 may be inserted into or removed from the container 10 while the partitions 34 are inserted into the container 10 as shown in FIG. 3.

The novel container has been described in detail with particular reference to preferred embodiments thereof. As will be apparent to those skilled in the art in the light of the accompanying disclosure, many substitutions, modifications, and variations are possible in the practice of the invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.